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Nadia Podoroska, Roland Garros semifinalist—10 things you may not know
Even the most die-hard tennis fan may have never heard of her before this week.
October 06, 2020
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Nadia Podoroska, the No. 131-ranked qualifier who is also a Roland Garros semifinalist, has taken the tennis world by storm over the last two weeks in Paris. But until the last few days, even the most hardcore tennis fans may have never heard of her.
Here are 10 things you may not know about the surging 23-year-old from Argentina:
She isn’t just Argentina’s top-ranked female player, she’s South America’s No. top-ranked female player. The next highest on the continent is No. 169 Veronica Cepede Royg, of Paraguay.
She’s playing just her second main draw at a major. Her first came more than four years ago, at the 2016 US Open where—as a qualifier—she lost in the first round to then-No. 41 Annika Beck.
She had never won back-to-back tour-level matches in her career before this tournament. Podoroska had just four tour-level wins to her name coming in. In Paris she’s notched another five, plus three in qualifying.
She dropped just 14 games in qualifying. As the No. 8 seed in qualies, she cruised past Magdalena Frech, 6-2, 6-2; Jacqueline Cristian, 6-0, 6-4; and No. 20 seed Wang Xinyu, 6-2, 6-4. She was tied with Mayar Sherif of Egypt for fewest games lost by any of the 12 main-draw qualifiers.
She scored her first Top 50 win in the second round. Podoroska beat 23rd-seeded, 27th-ranked Yulia Putintseva, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, hitting 36 winners to 25 unforced errors against one of the game’s best defensive players. Putintseva had just reached the US Open quarterfinals for the first time.
She took out the woman who beat Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova had beaten the two former No. 1s—both in straight sets—but Podoroska ended the Slovak’s run in the third round, 6-3, 6-2, hitting 26 winners to 20 unforced errors.
She had never played a Top 10 player before her quarterfinal match against Elina Svitolina. Or even a Top 20 player, for that matter. But after going down a break in the first set, and three more times in the second set, she dug out a 6-2, 6-4 victory over the No. 5-ranked Ukrainian.
She’s the first Argentinian woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal in more than 16 years. The last was Paola Suarez, who reached the 2004 Roland Garros semifinals, where she fell to Elena Dementieva.
She’s the first female qualifier to reach the semifinals of Roland Garros in the Open Era. Before this year, nine female qualifiers had reached the quarterfinals here in the Open Era, but none had gone further. Podoroska has gone that one step further, and Martina Trevisan could join her, too. The last female qualifier to reach a major semifinal was Alexandra Stevenson at 1999 Wimbledon.
She’s ranked No. 131 now, but is projected to be Top 50 on Monday. She began 2020 ranked No. 255, and coming into this tournament her career-high was No. 130, which she set a few weeks ago.